The next time anyone wonders why cops are sometimes cynical about the judges before whom their cases appear, the recent reelection of one Cynthia Brim to the criminal court bench in suburban Chicago can be cited.
Even by Cook County’s notorious standards, she’s a doozie.
Just a few hours after voters extended her tenure for another six years on November 6, Judge Brim appeared in court — as a defendant.
Legally Insane (at $182,000 per year)
Since last March she’s been charged with misdemeanor battery for shoving a deputy with both hands and throwing a set of keys at another deputy during a dispute at a courthouse security checkpoint.
Her lawyer claims she’s bipolar and was “legally insane” at the time of that incident. He says she was “absolutely psychotic in the sense of not having the ability to think straight or to even organize her thinking,” and he’s got a shrink ready to testify to that effect.
He won yet another continuance of the matter.
The day before the alleged battery, the 54-year-old Brim launched into a 45-minute tirade in traffic court, accusing officers of ticketing only black and Hispanic drivers and of conspiring against her. She is said to have strode around, reciting her parents’ names, the address of her church, and her license plate number, eventually leading to her ejection from her own courtroom.
Since then, she’s been suspended and forbidden to enter a courthouse without a police escort until the charges against her are resolved — but all the while (more than seven months now), she continues to draw her $182,000-a-year salary.
Chicago’s Low-test Gavel-bangers
Brim has been a judge since 1994 and has been up for retention three times. Each time, local bar associations have urged that voters reject her for “poor performance.”
Before the latest election, the Chicago Tribune editorialized emphatically against her, as well as against five other low-test gavel-bangers.
But a campaign organization funded by fellow judges endorsed her, as did the Democratic Party and the head of Cook County government. And when the ballots were tallied, she was favored by nearly 64 percent of the votes cast.
All the other judges deemed by practicing attorneys and newspapers to be unqualified were also reelected.
It has been more than 20 years since any sitting judge in Cook County has failed to be retained, regardless of his or her track record.
“I’m just happy the people voted me back in,” Brim says. Besides her pending trial for battery, her lawyer says her case is being evaluated by the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board to see if she is “fit to serve as judge.”
Brim’s barrister told a reporter, “I don’t see that there’ll be a problem.”
Oh, there’s a problem. It’s common sense and integrity — and voters who give a [bleep] — that are missing.